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Biography & Autobiography

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Feb 23, 2009, 12:06pm Top

Includes memoirs, diaries, and other correspondence. AUTOBIOGRAPHY is a biography by the same person it is about.

Feb 24, 2009, 5:09am Top

I don't like this as title for the top-level, even though I can see the grouping makes sense. I wouldn't in any way intuitively think to look in a 'Biography and Autobiography' section for letters and other correspondence, neither would I look here for diaries. I don't think the 'name' of the top-level is clear enough.

Feb 24, 2009, 10:23am Top

Where would you look for letters, correspondence and diaries?

Feb 24, 2009, 10:46am Top

No, as klarusu said the grouping makes sense - but the name leaves to be desired.

Edited: Feb 24, 2009, 12:25pm Top

>1 laena:
Do memoirs count? I ask because having them separate was an issue with the first draft.

Feb 24, 2009, 12:35pm Top

According to #1 they're in there too.

Feb 24, 2009, 12:36pm Top

Oh. Didn't see that because the category name is (apparently) more stuck than a bug in amber.

Feb 24, 2009, 2:25pm Top

What about books which happen to be correspondence, but which are not of a biographical nature? For instance, Music in the Western World : A History in Documents is made up largely of correspondence, but there is very little biographical information in it -- prossibly less biography than in a typical history book. Certainly if someone interested in it would be browsing in music history, not biography. There are probably much better examples out there -- works which collect a correspondence about a particular subject for the sake of looking at the discussion, not for looking at the people making it.

Is it necessary to state that correspondence goes here? If a work containing correspondence is biographical, then it clearly goes here without saying so. And if a work containing correspondence is not biographical, then I'm not sure this is where it belongs.

Feb 24, 2009, 3:24pm Top


I think that the only books of correspondence that are supposed to be included in this category are collections that include the correspondence of a particular person. The Letters of Sigmund Freud, for example. If this is the intention of the cataloguers, then the scope notes probably ought to be refined to indicate as much.

Feb 24, 2009, 4:54pm Top

A fair number of cataloging systems introduce subcategories for this such as (biography, memoirs, etc.) or based on what kind of person they are (sports, entertainment, politics).

I'm kind of fond of no second level groupings in this subject. Everything in the subject is intended to be arranged by name of the person the work is about.

Feb 24, 2009, 4:58pm Top

>10 KingRat:
Perhaps we can have subclassifications availble, but state that they don't need to be used for shelving? Having the subclassifications might make it easier to find biographies of similar people (as opposed to people with similar names).

Feb 25, 2009, 4:47am Top

There will always be an amount of interpretation involved, for any librarian having to decide what goes where.

Take a book like "Lewis Carroll & his Illustrators" - http://www.librarything.com/work/1388594 - for example. It's almost exclusively correspondence (between Carroll and a limited number of others), so it could go here. But it is about how Carroll's books came about - so it's also literary history (which would put it under "literary criticism" I suppose). And - according to tags - there is also somebody out there who interprets it as "art history", and I can see that point as well.

Feb 25, 2009, 6:07am Top

I guess what stumps me at the 2nd level here is what exactly the divisions would need to achieve for a particular library. On the one hand, I can envisage something like this (ignoring, for the moment, the fact that I really don't like the name):

Biography & Autobiography
> Autobiography
> Biography
> Journals/Diaries
> Correspondence Collections
>> Literary Figures
>> Sporting
>> Art
>> Theatre
>> Film
>> etc. etc.

Here, the focus would be secondarily on written content followed by subject/field/genre at a yet lower level. Or, for example:

Biography & Autobiography
> Literary Figures
> Sporting
> Art
> Theatre
> Film
> etc. etc.
>> Autobiography
>> Biography
>> Journals/Diaries
>> Correspondence Collections
>> etc. etc.

where the focus would be on field/genre of the subject first and then written content.

Take the actual categories with a pinch of salt, I was just using them as an example as I thought it through. I guess the first approach would assume that at the basest level, a library would want to shelve in a way that caters to patrons who come in looking for a type of writing. If they wanted more specificity, then the next level down would come into play. The second approach allows a library to shelve at the basest level according to the Subject (with a capital to denote reference to the person) rather than 'writing type' and then devolve further if the need arises.

My opinion is that the second way is probably the most intuitive for public library collections. I can imagine that a patron would be more likely to approach a search looking for a particular person and then look at whether there are biographies, autobiographies, letter collections etc.

Feb 25, 2009, 10:31am Top

Genre may be the important second level category (but not, I guess, always). I was thinking about several books in my library about soldiers - biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, diaries. I shelve them according to the relevant conflict. I wouldn't put Viscount Montgomery's diaries next to Parson Woodforde's or Albert Ball's biography next to Dickens. I'm probably re-inventing the top level 'Military' category

Feb 25, 2009, 11:52am Top

Well, perhaps -- especially with difficult books -- any one item might be simultaneously in more than one classification (like Library of Congress headings)?

Feb 26, 2009, 11:33am Top

> 8 & 9
Letters of famous psychologists (economists, anthropologists, etc.) usually go under the topic they cover. The book in question generally falls under the PSYCHOLOGY top level in other classification systems.

Feb 26, 2009, 11:47am Top

>16 laena:, Good to know. But in that case, whose letters would be shelved in this category?

Feb 26, 2009, 1:00pm Top

>13 klarusu:
I agree, the second method is better. I would even go further and not even use format as the third level.

Mar 2, 2009, 5:37pm Top

So, Biography & Autobiography > Literary Figures > {Some More Specific Category} > Virginia Woolf > Diaries?

I think most libraries would go with Biography & Autobiography > W > Virginia Woolf > Diaries, but I agree that providing them another option could be useful, just in case they want to have a special section for the biographies of robber barons or something.

Mar 6, 2009, 7:20am Top

What if biography/autobiography was a facet instead of a subject?

Consider that a biography section is
1. Inherently easy to navigate because one usually does not 'browse' it (ex. look for biographies of different people working in the same field)
2. Inherently a section including various subjects which are not related to each other at all.

Some bookstores (I am thinking particularly of the Strand Bookstore in New York) do not have a biography section, and instead shelve bios according to the field that the subject predominantly worked in or is known for. These books are still shelved under the subject's name as opposed to the author's. Thus, fiction writer biographies are in literature, scientists are in science, etc. Once the initial shock of not having a biography section wears off, many people would realize that they didn't need it in the first place, since they know what the subject's field is (and indeed might want to look for related subjects in the same area).

Mar 6, 2009, 12:10pm Top

Thus, fiction writer biographies are in literature, scientists are in science, etc. (#20)

While I can see this working in science or music, I just can't see it being any good to put biographies of authors in with literature. For example, placing Jane Austen: A Life in literature (which, by the way, is often called "Fiction & Literature") implies that the biography is a work of fiction -- just like the books it's shelved with -- and carries a subtext of "this book claims to be a biography but we think it's a load of crap."

See why it could be weird?

Mar 6, 2009, 1:40pm Top

>21 AnnaClaire:, I agree, but I think this is only a big problem because OSC has decided to use "Fiction" as a top-level category, instead of "Literature." It wouldn't bother me a bit to put biographies of literary figues in a "Literature" section, but it would be hugely problematic to put them in a "Fiction" section, since they're not fictional. Worse yet, imagine shelving biographies of poets in the "Poetry" section.

With all this said, I think that the only way we can treat bios consistently, within the current top-level structure, is to shelve all of them under this top-level category. Obviously we can't shelve bios of authors and poets in Fiction or Poetry, so they HAVE to go under this top-level. But then it would be inconsistent to shelve bios of scientists in Science, etc., so in my opinion all bios should go here.

My objection would go away if there was a top-level category called "Literature" that encompassed fiction and poetry, because I don't feel like it would be misleading to shelve literary biographies in "Literature."

Mar 7, 2009, 4:34pm Top

>22 polutropon:
Just to be clear, not all fiction is considered literature, so are you suggesting that there be a top level LITERATURE which includes subcategories: FICTION, AUTOBIOGRAPHY & BIOGRAPHY, LITERARY CRITICISM, etc.? One of the problems with this is the system is forced to become very deep (e.g., LITERATURE > Fiction > Romance > Gothic > alphabetical by author)

Mar 7, 2009, 5:37pm Top

>23 laena:, I would like there to be a top-level LITERATURE category that would contain at least Fiction, Drama, Essays, Poetry, and Literary Criticism, but I'm not advocating for one in the OSC.

I realize that I strayed from my main point in #22, which was only this: however we shelve biographies, it ought to be consistent throughout the entire system. Two consistent alternatives have been suggested: 1) shelve all biographies in this section and then subclassify, or 2) get rid of this section and shelve biographies where books by the subject would be shelved, so biographies of Freud go in PSYCHOLOGY, and biographies of Galileo go in SCIENCE.

In the abstract, we could go either way, but #21 points out something that could be misleading about the second scheme, namely that this would have us shelving biographies of J.R.R. Tolkien in FICTION, or of W.B. Yeats in POETRY. Of course, a biography isn't fictional, nor is it poetry. In other words, the names of certain top-level categories would preclude us from shelving biographies in them, because it would probably be misleading to patrons.

Because of that, and because we ideally want to treat biographies uniformly within the OSC, I think we have to prefer option #1: shelving all biographies here and subclassifying.

Off the topic, but exactly what do you mean, not all fiction is considered literature? Considered by whom? When I use the word, I intend it broadly to include all fiction, poetry, drama, and at least some non-fiction, though I recognize that others use it in a more limited way. What I hadn't realized was that I was misusing the word by using it so broadly. I just thought that it had both broad and narrow meanings that had to be distinguished in context.

Mar 7, 2009, 8:02pm Top

>23 laena:,24 I, too would like a top-level category as polutropon describes.

I understand that we're supposed to be working on the second-level categories now, but I'm still feeling that this one is in reality not as good as it could be, and so we're having troubles with Biography, Drama, and other literary forms that are not strictly Fiction or Poetry.

I'm not particularly set on the term "Literature". If there's another good term recognizable to a broad lay audience, I'm fine with that.

Mar 8, 2009, 2:08pm Top

I would like to respond to the Literature discussion, but also stay on topic with Biography.

I see your point, and I do think it is best to keep poetry, fiction, drama & literary criticism together in the same area. But see the mess that is DDC 800s! Many public libraries organize fiction by genre and authors last name and forgo the DDC system, which breaks down via country/language. But travesties occur. Where do you go for Conrad Aiken? In my library: Collected Stories="Aiken, Conrad", but Collected Poems=811. How do you avoid this?

Why do we need a LITERATURE top level if poetry, fiction and lit crit are next to one another as top levels? Happy to be convinced :)

Very popular section in public libraries. People usually look for biographies based upon the person, not their career (e.g., Ghandi, Da Vinci). I think it should be its own section.

Edited: Mar 8, 2009, 5:00pm Top

laena, in the interest of not hijacking this thread, I'm going to start a new thread on the main group page for everybody who's interested in talking about the possibility of a LITERATURE top-level category.

Mar 8, 2009, 4:22pm Top

Some people are very identified with their subject field. One such person is Descartes with books about him here on Long Island being at DDC 194 or Biog depending on the inclination of the book, with outlier DDC numbers at 510, 530 and 574. One library here on LI, for one book, used 194 instead of Biography. But, I agree that Biography is preferable nearly all the time.

Some libraries with separate DDC and Fiction categories have put classic foreign fiction works in the 800 series. I've actually seen Don Quixote filed under Spanish literature (863). Not consistent.

Libraries on Long Island will usually have novels all together, however, mystery is usually separate But whether science fiction is kept separate from regular novels is variable depending on library.

Mar 8, 2009, 7:54pm Top

Some people are very identified with their subject field. (#28)

In such cases, I think an individual library can choose where to shleve books. We should let them decide for themselves where such associations override a biography section. As laena said in #26,
People usually look for biographies based upon the person, not their career

Mar 9, 2009, 12:50pm Top

People usually look for biographies based upon the person, not their career

I always knew I wasn't normal! :)

In my late teens and early twenties (the time when I read biographies the most) I generally looked for biographies of people involved in the areas of science or medicine, and I found out about a whole lot of people I otherwise never would have know about. How limiting it would have been to only read about people that I'd heard of before.

Mar 9, 2009, 1:49pm Top

Would my idea in post 11 (subgroupings by carrer, etc., which aren't used for shelving purposes) work? It would prevent the kerfuffle about where to put people, but allow users to find other people whom they might find interesting.

Mar 9, 2009, 5:42pm Top

Another example of someone needing to browse a distinct biography section: grade school and high school students being assigned to read "a biography." At least once a week at our library, we have a kid come in and ask for any sort of biography for these assignments.

And there are a lot of adults whose favorite things to read are biographies. Regardless of subject, some folks just like to read about the true lives of other people.

Pure alphabetical sorting does create some odd arrangements (that Conrad Aiken biography will sit right next to Clay Aiken's,) but outside of turning the biography into an optional facet, it might be the most sensible thing to do.

Mar 20, 2009, 10:47am Top

Please check out this thread (http://www.librarything.com/topic/60594) for a link to the new OSC blog and a call for specific volunteer involvement. Thanks!

Apr 7, 2009, 4:55pm Top

It's been a little while since there was activity in the discussion, possibly because we've touched on most of the main issues. In order to help everyone move towards some kind of consensus, I've summarised what I consider to be the main points raised here over on the OSC Blog. Please feel free to go over there and read through it and correct me if you think I've misinterpreted any of the points raised here. I've highlighted what I think is the main question we have to ask before we can start to decide on the second levels.

Apr 7, 2009, 5:07pm Top

I like alpha-by-subject for biography.

Are we presently in a position to amend the scope notes? I'm still unclear on the matter of which books of correspondence would be shelved here, and which would be shelved with the writer's other works. In other words, do Freud's letters go here, or in PSYCHOLOGY? Laena said they traditionally go in PSYCHOLOGY, but the way I read our present scope notes, they'd wind up here.

Edited: Apr 7, 2009, 5:17pm Top

>34 klarusu: - I think you summarized things nicely on the blog.

I originally proposed "Bio/Autobio as facet," and in light of a few factors (the current absence of a Literature first-level being the biggest) I will let that idea go.

My only caveat is that organizing bio/autobio into 'genres' would basically attempt the same thing as the facet. At this point, I would vote for plain alphabetization by subject. For the most part, this has seemed to work very well in public libraries.

Apr 7, 2009, 5:27pm Top

I'm in favor of sorting by subject. If you know who you're looking for, you can look that person up in the catalog. If you don't know who you're looking for, alphabetical isn't useful (unless you don't care at all what sort of person's biography you read).

Apr 7, 2009, 5:31pm Top

I think I'm in the alpha-by-subject camp - personally, the way I browse, I would find genre etc. useful but I can accept the possibility that the majority of patrons would browse by alpha.

Apr 7, 2009, 6:23pm Top

I am assuming that 'subject' means the individual the (auto)biography is about. Looking at my own books, those about Neruda, Ted Hughes, Dickens, Lady Mary Wortley Montague, Gwen Raverat, Sir John Mortimer, Orwell and others sit reasonably comfortably together, and alpha-order is fine.

I do have some genre issues, however. For me, the chief ones are military history and travel. Memoirs about wartime experiences on my shelves are together with other books about the relevant conflict. Travel writers may write diaries, memoirs, descriptive works with little personal involvement or frank autobiographies. Again, for me, all the works of people like Wilfred Thesiger or Patrick Leigh Fermor will be shelved together, with other travel books rather than with biographies. Of course that approach leads to other difficulties - travel books are usually shelved according to the area described, which might suit Thesiger but not Fermor.

I can see that enthusiasts for, say, Hollywood in the thirties and forties, or English Premier League football, or golf, might have similar reservations.

I can't work out whether looking at conforming majorities or difficult works which might end up in several places is the most profitable way of sorting things out.

I am really thinking out loud and not getting anywhere but I think it would be very difficult to go from a second level alphabetical shelving to any sort of third level whereas (Auto)Bio --> genre --> subject A-Z would work.

Apr 7, 2009, 7:35pm Top

>39 abbottthomas:, Maybe travel memoirs could be shelved in GEOGRAPHY & TRAVEL instead of here?

Apr 8, 2009, 2:06am Top

>40 polutropon: That is certainly what I would do, but where do you stop? As I suggested above, (auto)biographies of sportsmen with sport, film stars/directors with film, scientists with science, doctors with medicine, and so on. In some of these books what's happening is more important than who it's happening to.

I think I'm coming round to a genre second level - how about (in no particular order):

'Everyday life'
Travel & exploration
Business & commerce

Edited: Apr 8, 2009, 4:16am Top

I slept on it and I'm recanting. I like a genre second level, I really do. This is the way I've reasoned it out.

If a patron is wants to find a particular Biography, would they be confused by having to go to a genre (for want of a better word) section first? I really don't think so. It isn't that counter intuitive. Especially if the alpha order then followed within each genre.

If a patron wanted to find individuals in a particular field/genre, would they be hampered by an alphabetical listing? Most definitely. It would be near impossible to browse in any genre-specific way and would prevent people finding Bios of anyone that they didn't specifically know the name of in that genre/field.

So, in the spirit of giving libraries 'choice', I think that genre fields do have the added value necessary to make the change.

Apr 8, 2009, 8:17am Top

The only thing I'm leary about with regards to genre subcategories, is that it seems so subjective which sorts of occupations (etc.) get their own subcategories. Not only that, but in order to exhaust the field, it seems like we'd have to have an inordinate number of secondary categories. If there's a way to manage these difficulties, then let's try to find it.

Apr 8, 2009, 9:13am Top

>43 polutropon: I wouldn't disagree with you.

Shall I repeat my list with one addition, and see where we get?

'Everyday life'
Travel & exploration
Business & commerce
Art, design, architecture

Apr 8, 2009, 9:46am Top

I think there would be no more difficulty in coming up with a list of genres than there was coming up with a list of top-level headings from a seemingly infinite body of books and look how easily we did that ;))

I think that a way forward, not discounting the idea of alpha ordering in the slightest, would certainly be to come up with what would be a 'definitive' (HA!HA!) list of secondaries and then put it up alongside alpha and see where it would get us. Good idea.

'Everyday Life'
Travel and Exporation
Entertainment Would this encompass Film, TV, Radio, Theatre etc.
Business and Commerce
Art, Design and Architecture
Criminal (I add this because the scope notes for True Crime don't seem to include biographies of criminal figures: 'True Crime: Includes works that are non-fiction in which the author details and illuminates actual crime (e.g., Espionage, Organized Crime)' although I may be reading them wrongly.)

Where would you put biographies of major figures in the world of Technology and Engineering, Psychology, Philosophy, Journalism and Media, 'Good Works' (i.e. charitable work, etc.)?

I'm just thinking out loud here, trying to think of the bios that might crop up.

Edited: Apr 8, 2009, 12:01pm Top

Let me just propose a distinction (which may or may not be helpful going forward). Do you guys think that there may be a difference between, for lack of better words, "genre" and "subject matter" within this top-level?

To give you an example of what I mean, I think that abbottthomas's "war memoir" and "travel memoir" categories qualify as genres. I think "survival stories" might qualify as well. Surely there are other forms of biographical and autobiographical writing that follow familiar formats and patterns, and could be grouped together accordiingly.

I am less sure that the subject matter distinctions (like biographies of literary figures, or biographies of scientists, etc.) are helpfully denominated as being in different "genres." They are different from each other, and there's no reason not to recognize as much, but they are not as different from each other as each of them is from a travel memoir. Right? Essentially, I think we may be trying to grapple with two distinct axes of classification, and we might be better served by choosing to focus first on one, and then on the other.

For example, we could try a classification tree like this:

BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Travel Memoirs / {classification by region?} /Alpha-by-author
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / War Memoirs / {classification by conflict?} / Alpha-by-author
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Survival Stories / Alpha-by-author
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Diaries / Alpha-by-author*
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Correspondence / Alpha-by-author*
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General / Literary Figures / Alpha-by-subject
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General / Political Figures / Alpha-by-subject
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General / Sports Figures / Alpha-by-subject
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General / Scientific Figures / Alpha-by-subject
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General / Entertainment Figures / Alpha-by-subject
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General / Business Figures / Alpha-by-subject
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General / Artistic Figures / Alpha-by-subject
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General / Religious Figures / Alpha-by-subject
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General / Criminal Figures / Alpha-by-subject
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General / Other / Alpha-by-subject

*not sure that these are good ideas, since they would separate diaries and correspondence by X from a biography of X.

ETA: Having put this list together, I'm having an easier time understanding what abbottthomas means when he says in >41 abbottthomas:, "In some of these books what's happening is more important than who it's happening to." My thinking is that if the more important aspect of the book is "what's happening," that book belongs in a secondary level beneath BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Conversely, if the more important aspect of the book is "who it's happening to," then it belongs in a tertiary category beneath BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General.

Do you guys think this would be a helpful way to proceed?

Apr 8, 2009, 12:21pm Top

I think you can leave out the General secondary category and mix the genres and the subject matter at the same level.

Edited: Apr 8, 2009, 1:11pm Top

>47 jjwilson61:, We've been assuming in this thread that as we subdivide BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY, libraries will adopt or fail to adopt our subclassifications on essentially an all-or-nothing basis. That is, either they'll use our subcategories and then shelve alpha-by-subject within them, or they'll eschew our subcategories and shelve the whole top-level alpha-by-subject.

What I like about the General secondary category is that it gives libraries a tenable and obvious stopping point between those two extremes. They could ignore the tertiary categories beneath General, and shelve it alpha-by-subject, while still classifying War Memoirs, Travel Memoirs, and Survival Stories, etc., separately.

The reason I think this is important is because the subjects of War Memoirs and the rest are not likely to engender a lot of name-recognition. If you shelve Biographies alpha-by-subject, without a Political Figures subcategory, finding My Life by Bill Clinton is still a cinch, because you know his name. If you shelve Biographies alpha-by-subject, without a Survival Stories subcategory, finding My Lobotomy by Howard Dully is practically impossible because you don't know his name.

I recognize that if a library wanted such functionality, they could get it without our creating a General secondary category, simply by collapsing the secondary categories of Political Figures, etc., while maintaining the secondary categories of War Memoir, etc. However, I think that building the General category directly into our scheme makes this option more apparent than it would be if we placed the genre subclassifications on the same level as the subject-matter subclassifications. And frankly, I think it is a route that a lot of libraries would prefer to go.

Apr 8, 2009, 1:23pm Top

Fair enough. Can we come up with a better name than General though? It irks me that the works under General are actually the books that match the name of the top level. Maybe the problem is really with the top-level name. Could a top-level name like Biographical Materials work?

Apr 8, 2009, 7:42pm Top

>49 jjwilson61:, It wouldn't bother me to change the name of the top-level (if that's within our jurisidiction) or to change the name of my proposed "General" subcategory (if we can come up with something workable).

I think that BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS as the top-level name would be accurate, but it's not exactly pretty, and could be intimidating to some patrons. Maybe it just rings that way to me. I think that the existing top-level names were chosen so as to be as simple and intuitive as possible, and I'm not sure that BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS fits the bill. Still, I don't have a better suggestion.

Apr 8, 2009, 7:55pm Top

It's not just you. "Biographical Materials" sounds to me more like a resource for research than something to read for pleasure.

Apr 8, 2009, 10:18pm Top

Well, it was meant as more of a springboard to other suggestions than as a real suggestion in itself.

Edited: Apr 9, 2009, 6:00pm Top

For me, "BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS" is focused enough that it fits well as a subcategory of "HISTORY." Initially, I had separate headings of "Biographies," "Autobiographies," "Memoirs," etc. but all except "Biographies" seemed too small for its own major designation. So, I combined them into one subcategory of "Historical Figures" -- this was too limiting for my tastes, because I couldn't get the books about military units, businesses, etc. into that designation.

Now, I tag all the Biographies, Autobiographies, memoirs, etc. in my library as "BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS" for two main reasons:
1st, I shelve most of them together.
2nd, this one descriptive tag accurately describes everything sufficiently well that others using my library know where to find things.
(A 3rd, minor reason: "Works" is a small word, and I prefer the shortest, most-descriptive heading I can think of.)

I further divide the subcategory (of "BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS") by the following sub-subcategories (sub-sub-subcategories are in parentheses after each).

**Artists** (actors/esses, composers/musicians, painters/sculptors, and playwrights/writers -- of all genres)

**Business** (business people as well as corporate histories)

**Government** (agencies, employees, political leaders, political parties, etc.)

**Law Enforcement** (military personnel, military units, first responders ((police/fire/EMTs)), true crime, etc. The exceptions are if the work is also about any specific military action, then it's filed under that: History > *military conflict* > **unit**, etc. -- Initially had **Law Enforcement** combined with **Government** but there was very little overlap and the combined sub-subcategory was too large; I'm currently in the process of splitting them.)

**Religious** (both people and specific religions/movements, regardless of what I think of their ideals/ideas)

**Sciences** (doctors/nurses/therapists, educators/school administrators, farmers/agricultural researchers, librarians, other researchers/theorists, etc. -- Since philosophy is more abstract and opinion-based than other sciences, I've put philosophers in the **Religious** category.)

Within each sub-subcategory, I shelve all the titles together alphabetically (by subject, and by author within each subject), regardless of whether they're Autobiographies, Biographies, Memoirs, or whatever.

Not sure if I've written this any clearer than mud or not. Because I can see my shelves, it makes perfect sense to me. Ask for clarification if you need it.

Also not sure if any portion of this would assist in simplifying this categorization, but I have found it intuitive.

The only problem I've had with these designations is ***True Crime*** can go under **Law Enforcement** or **Government** depending upon who chased the criminal(s), but I know they're all under **Law Enforcement** so that problem isn't too difficult to circumvent.

In re-reading the thread and my post, would need to have at least one more sub-subcategory of **Sports**.

My Survival Stories are categorized under **Law Enforcement** (since police/fire/EMTs usually search for them). It could also be filed as its own sub-sub, or possibly (a stretch) in **Sciences**.

Also forgot one other sub-sub-sub of diaries & other correspondence I have: early western life. I have a separate shelf for them, but their category is actually in artists (because they were writers).

Apr 9, 2009, 7:37pm Top

Attempted to flesh out what I have to see how it would work on a large scale; problematic & needed work.

The first thing I realized was it is not feasible to leave "Military" under "Law Enforcement." Needs its own category.

Next, "First Responders" should not be a subcategory of "Law Enforcement." Using "Law Enforcement" at all is redundant unless it's combined with (or a sub- of) "Government." "First Responders" would, however work as a sub- of "Government."

Also realized that Religious biographical works would probably be best filed in RELIGION and not here (explanation at the end of this post).

Lastly, I didn't attempt to exhaust every sub-sub-subcategory, but ended with (etc) where it seemed self-explanatory.

BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Artists / linguistic arts {playwrites, poets, writers}
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Artists / music arts {composers, musicians, singers}
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Artists / performance arts {actor(s/esses)}
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Artists / physical arts {illustrators, painters, sculptors}
{I see a problem in dance: music arts? performance arts? physical arts? or a Sport?}

BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Business / individual businesses (i.e. Skunk Works)
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Business / leaders

BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / First Responders / EMTs
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / First Responders / Fire
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / First Responders / Hazmat
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / First Responders / Negotiators
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / First Responders / Police
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / First Responders / Police // SWAT
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / First Responders / Police // True Crime (?)

BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Government / agencies
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Government / employees
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Government / political leaders
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Government / political parties
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Government / True Crime (?)

BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Military / Air Force & Air Corps //
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Military / Air Force & Air Corps // flights, squadrons, units
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Military / Air Force & Air Corps // personnel
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Military / Army // (etc)
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Military / Coast Guard // (etc)
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Military / Marine Corps // (etc)
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Military / Navy // (etc)
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Military / Specops // (etc)

BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / agriculture //
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / agriculture // botanists
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / agriculture // farmers
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / agriculture // gardeners
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / education //
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / education // administrators
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / education // professors & teachers
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / library //
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / medical //
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / medical // doctors
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / medical // nurses
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / medical // therapists (etc)
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / philosophy //
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / philosophy // philosophers
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / physics //
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / physics // astrophysicists (etc)
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / research //
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / research // geneticists ///
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / research // geneticists /// animal ////
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sciences / research // geneticists /// human //// (etc)

Religion would most likely be easier on the end-user if "Biographical Works" were used as a final sub- of each religious movement's subcategory. Otherwise, I can see keeping religious biographical works would be extremely confusing if implemented in a very large library (because of the sheer number of movements and break-aways).
B. WKS. / Relig. / movements / sub-mvmnts // sub-sub-mvmnts /// sub-sub-sub-mvmnts //// ppl

For example, if I were to use a biography of my neighbor: Jim B. it would look something like this:
B. WKS. / Relig. / Baptist / independent // conservative /// KJB-only //// Ruckmanite ///// Jim B.

I know there would be similar sub-headings like this in most faiths. If Religion is used at all, think it would be easiest to do like this:
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Religion / main religion //
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Religion / main religion // individual
(Protestant, Rom. Cath., Orthodox, Buddhist, etc. and let the end user figure out all the nuances.)

Sports could be confusing as well, if given too much detail:

BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sports / specific sport //
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sports / specific sport // league or association
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sports / specific sport // league or association /// team ////
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sports / specific sport // league or association /// team //// individual
(baseball, basketball, cricket, football (US), futbol, hockey, etc.)

Seems better to have:
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sports / specific sport
BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS / Sports / specific sport // individual

Can see how ambitious this project is. Gets difficult quickly. =)

Apr 10, 2009, 7:48am Top

PS - I'm not advocating using my system as the end-all be-all for the OSC; put it out there to see how it would be torn apart and could be improved. This is the largest (maybe 2nd largest, but I doubt it) part of my library and criticism would be appreciated... so as to improve my own library.


This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.

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